Posted by: audaxing | April 23, 2013

Base Layers Old and New

I’ve used a few different types of base layer. They are a great idea to keep comfortable, dry and warm.

On long distance rides where the weather will vary they have the promise of making whatever clothing you are wearing more able to cope with the conditions. If it is too hot then the base should help wick away sweat. If it is too cold then the base should keep you warmer.

But some types work better than others.

IMP Alka Merkalon Base Layer

This is the first base layer I ever bought. It worked well, much better wicking than cotton. Unfortunately it shrank in the wash. Merkalon is apparently some sort of polyester mix.

Howies Merino Base Layer

Next I moved on to the material that all the manufacturers are pushing at the moment, merino. I had a Howies short sleeved top like the one pictured above except it was an attractive stripped red and black colour. I quickly noticed that the wicking was not as good as my old base layer, despite being made of the “latest thing”. On events it got wet with sweat but on 600s I would let it dry out on my body and the next day it was fine to use again. To me that is the main advantage of merino, it seems to able to be reused comfortably without washing

Helly Hansen Base Layer

Recently when I was considering the challenge of an early season ride starting at 2am I thought that a base layer (or two) that would actually stay dry would keep me warmer than a sodden merino top. So I got the above Helly Hansen LS base and the below “string vest” mesh sleeveless base. Wearing the LS over the mesh vest proved to be both dry under the sweat load of riding and also warm.

OneTen mesh vest

The mesh vest in particular seems to have excellent wicking properties for someone as sweaty as me. I’ve been wearing it in cool spring conditions under a wind proof LS jersey. It seems to keep me warm(er) but I don’t end up wet with sweat

So the overall conclusion is that merino fabrics don’t work so well for me. I need something that wicks better


  1. I favour helly hansen. I have also found the base layers from Lidl an effective low cost wicking layer.For our Lejog journey which starts on Friday 26th I am using Hellly Hansen short and long sleeved with a Lidl vest underneath.

    My E2E is being recorded as a 1400km Permanent

  2. […] It wicks, it’s warm and it has a stretchy fit. I’ve previously done a post on base layers. Merino is great but it’s too warm for me riding a bike. I’ve used merino base layers […]

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